Grand Rapids Voice Question of the Week:

question markThe Grand Rapids voice will try will to introduce a new question each week for your consideration,  As always, the public’s comments are welcome.  Please keep your comments clean and we will post them.      -GRV-


QUESTION:   Are Non-profits and 501 C3  Economic Development Companies having a negative impact on the economic life in the area?

According taxemptworld .com, there are 467 tax exempt organizations in Itasca County.  Their reported total annual income is over $227 million.  (see link:

Although many of these organizations are small and deserve to be tax exempt, some of these organizations are rather large.  Maybe some of these larger groups should have their non-profit tax exempt status re-examined.   They pay little or no taxes.  The fact that they do not pay taxes means that the citizens and businesses are picking up more of the local tax bill.


17 thoughts on “Grand Rapids Voice Question of the Week:

  1. Joe

    If we didn’t have the Blandin Foundation in Itasca County how many Non-profits would we have? I predict significantly less. Is this what the Blandin family wanted? If you filter out the churches, clubs, and advocacy groups and then identify the organizations and how much they are paying their board member via salary, per diem, and benefits, health and others and then show percentage of total dollars versus how much they receive. This would open everyone’s eyes. IEDC would be prime example.


  2. Anton

    The 990 forms that the non-profits are required to file with the IRS will shock most residents if they check them out. Let’s look at three area non-profits:

    Northland Counseling- $12,785,000.00 in revenue in 2014 . Seven members of the organization are making over $100,000 per year in salary. CEO Greg Walker’s salary and other compensation total over $274,000.00!! Thomas Kefalus ( Psychiatrist) is paid over $213,000.00 per year. Remember, this entity pays ZERO property taxes and costs local taxpayers tons of money every year.

    Advocates for Family Peace: approximately 1 million dollars in revenue and Executive Director made $84,000.00 in 2012

    Second Harvest Food Bank: 2014 revenue of $7,143,762.00 and over 90k in compensation for the director.
    These non-profits continue to promote more poverty to grow their revenue….they are draining us dry!!’


      1. We are making the assumption you are speaking only of property tax, meaning tax paid on the value of the building and land which the hospital resides to be divided among the city, county and school district to cover their expenses much like your property tax on your home. If it is a non-profit hospital it does not which appears to be by far the most common. The specifics of the property tax paid can easily be ascertained by going to Itasca County’s web site and click on Parcel Inquiry, type in the name or any parcel nearby and then pan over to the property you really want say a hospital. Now that you have the one you want click on identify on the top bar and it will give you the parcel’s owner on the left. Scroll down and you will see highlighted the tax information, click on it and you will have your answers. This page has a wealth of information on it including a natural color photo of the property. If it shows no tax they pay no tax.


  3. Lynn

    I think we need to talk about the difference in Nonprofits
    For example
    Churches vs like North Homes
    Or the tax free zones
    It can get confusing for us
    Explain please


    1. educator

      There are many different nonprofits like churches, 4h clubs, snowmobile clubs, economic development companies, hospitals and so on. The key to all of these is in the 990 tax form they must file each year. The 990 tells who are the directors the chief officers and so an but also how much they are paid. Every nonprofit required to do a 990 tax form is also required to supply it upon request to any requester. The 990 will give you much more information as to their purpose, conflicts of interest if any and the many detailed questions asked by the IRS to avoid conflict and show legitimacy of purpose, interesting stuff. It might surprise you the answers that are given by some on these forms. I think the more important thing is how many are funded by your city and county tax dollars and what do they really accomplish for you. Also look who their sponsors are and are they there to help say economic development or are they there to help themselves. There are also some that just exist to fund various other nonprofits but make no mistake the word nonprofit does not mean the directors and officers don’t get paid. Most get paid very well and that’s the first thing the 990 will give you, how much. Say for example a hospital is a nonprofit it does not mean the doctors and nurses work for free or they do not prosper. It means they are tax exempt as an organization. This is a common misconception.


    1. Misty Fied

      Not for the voice to say. Look at the list and ask your city council and county board members who they give the most to and why. That’s who needs to be accountable.


    2. fleeced

      There appears to be many, but look close at the old Ainsworth property and follow that project. It started with and abatement of property taxes of over $300,000 by your county board then the purchase from the Ainsworth family by IEDC. As I recall there was IRRRB funds also tossed in for repurposing the property to prepare to sell. There was tax breaks given to the two property owners that built there, no property taxes collected on the land to equal anywhere near what the county would have got had they foreclosed in the beginning for back taxes and sold it at auction. Someone would have owned it and paid some tax to the county in this case. So now we have no county revenue, into it for millions of public money and the people of the county got nothing. We don’t even own it. Follow this one and it will be clear how this stuff works in the name of economic development. The sad thing, there are many just like it and yet you have the worst unemployment rate in the state. You need to stop giving the peoples money in the name of economic development, it just doesn’t work.


  4. fleeced

    Give me any real success story by any of these so called economic development companies private or public in this area, please I beg you. It appears all they have done is line their directors pockets with public money along private company money that’s paid to get these economic development organizations to lobby for them. Who do they lobby against, you the public. Look at these economic development organizations online and look at their private sponsors, why do you think they are paying them, to help save you money? After thirty years of this process of tax abatement, giving away public land and public funding how can you say we are anywhere but in the tank. In spite of these continued dismal results every year, year after year, they are back for more public hand outs of public funds and the politicians in charge will get on board to proclaim what they did. What did they accomplish other than raise your property taxes and squander your property values? In this area we have nonprofits giving to economic development nonprofits! Look out your window, where are the results?


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